Our Grand Cherokee came equipped with Chrysler's 5.7-liter V-8, making 360 horsepower, and the five-speed automatic transmission that's included across the entire line. Yes, it's the Hemi engine, but for some reason it's not called that in the Jeep. In any case, there's lots to love about this engine; it starts with a characteristic low rumble and whoosh and keeps up with fast-moving traffic seemingly without even breaking a sweat. With a 7,400-pound tow rating (rear-wheel drive version), it's a natural for towing.
The base 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, by the way, is impressive as well, and some of High Gear Media's editors prefer it.
Mileage: really not bad
You might not actually see much better mileage with the V-6 though; we averaged nearly 19 mpg over 230 miles of driving—split about equally between Interstates, two-lane back roads, and congested city streets. That's an impressive figure—as good if not better than we'd see in some V-6 crossovers, and likely because the V-8 is geared tall and thrums along below 2,000 rpm most of the time. The V-8's MDS system, which deactivates some of the cylinders when cruising or coasting, surely has a role, too.
Oh, and we even got some brief time off-roading in the Grand. With the Jeep's new Land Rover-like SelecTerrain system, the Grand Cherokee's combination of mechanical and electronic strategies, plus its surprisingly versatile suspension, has the makings of a solid off-roader, too.
With the 2011 Grand Cherokee, Jeep at last has a very nice driving, well-rounded vehicle that does it all and doesn't have any glaring deficiencies 95 percent of the time. Driving on-road is now very grand as well.
For more information see our full review on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, where you'll also find more on features, pricing, and specs, plus what other review sources think.